Rozner: If Bears sign Kareem Hunt, responsibility to him goes beyond football

 
 
Updated 1/16/2019 5:42 AM
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  • Running back Kareem Hunt, released by Kansas City after lying about assaulting a woman, has drawn interest from the Bears.

    Running back Kareem Hunt, released by Kansas City after lying about assaulting a woman, has drawn interest from the Bears. Associated Press

If the Bears sign Kareem Hunt, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy will always be known as the guys who hired him.

They will be the ones who welcomed a man who can be seen on video shoving and kicking a woman, the GM and coach who couldn't wait to cut Cody Parkey after his kick hit an upright, but brought in Hunt after he kicked a woman.

As tasteless as that is, it's as real as it gets in the NFL.

The Cleveland Police Department investigated and didn't charge Hunt, but the Chiefs released him after the video went public, not because of what occurred but because he lied about what occurred.

Now the Bears seem quite interested because Hunt is a terrific player and would seriously increase their Super Bowl chances.

But if they sign Hunt, that will be a football decision made by Virginia McCaskey and son George, who runs the business.

It's entirely their call.

This isn't about Pace or Nagy. They are paid to win and they will do anything to win. It's expected in the NFL.

NFL coaches and GMs are held to a different standard, which is, to say, none. Insulated from the real world and a modern vision, it's the 1950s.

Just win, baby.

They can get away with the most unpleasant of transactions for which other sports no longer dream of getting a pass.

It's a sport where Parkey is mocked for believing in anything other than football, where Marc Trestman was scorned for thinking his players should grow as men and care about one another.

That is not the NFL, where there is no outside world for coaches and GMs.

Upon his hiring, Pace used hundreds of words to describe wanting men of great character, and three months after he got the job, Pace sold ownership on the idea of Ray McDonald.

That was March 2015.

McDonald had been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and was being investigated for sexual assault, so noxious that San Francisco released him upon hearing the news of another investigation.

But George McCaskey approved the signing after he spoke with McDonald in person.

"He talked about growing up and his parents and his playing career," McCaskey said then at the NFL owners meetings. "And then he talked about these incidents which have become public knowledge, and he walked me through each one.

"And I was impressed with how sincere he was and how motivated he is."

Asked if he felt a deeper accountability to his mother in this regard, McCaskey said, "I don't think so, because to me there's an element of reverse sexism there."

Two months later, McDonald was arrested again on suspicion of domestic violence and possible child endangerment.

The Bears released him and two days later he was arrested again for violating a restraining order.

Reverse sexism.

In regards to Hunt, Nagy talked about second chances and called it "an unfortunate situation for everybody."

Unfortunate?

According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, more than 8,000 women are physically abused every day, three women are killed every day in a domestic attack and homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women.

If the Bears do this, they will need to educate those who speak to the media not just on what to say -- to not diminish an epidemic -- but also on what can be done to prevent further assaults.

Perhaps, even, to care about survivors.

Of much greater importance, they have a chance to actually change the culture, something they did not do immediately after hiring McDonald.

"George McCaskey said, 'I talked to him. I looked him in the eye and I don't believe there's a problem here.' He allowed McDonald to take no responsibility for what he's done," said author, advocate and University of Maryland law professor Leigh Goodmark in 2015. "They allowed him to be immune from what he's done.

"But the Bears also said, 'We believe in second chances.' If you say that, you imply there was a problem in the past.

"So why did you do nothing to address the problem and why did you dismiss the idea that he had done something, that you looked in his eyes and believed him?

"That's some contradiction, but you can't have it both ways.

"The Bears could have facilitated change. Instead, they facilitated his behavior by giving the impression he did nothing wrong.

"I think it's really interesting that they thought through a conversation with someone who had a motive to minimize or deny behavior, that they could know he would no longer engage in that behavior.

"Honestly, that's ludicrous."

Rather than simply selling pink T-shirts at football games this time, the Bears could actually help Kareem Hunt with therapy, education, rehabilitation, peer-to-peer mentoring and confronting his family's violent past.

They can hold him accountable and monitor his behavior, and we're not talking about learning the playbook, being alert in meetings and securing the football.

This has to go beyond what GMs and coaches care about.

In the process, the Bears could make real change within the football culture, teaching young men and preventing future violence.

One has the right to hope.

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